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Random Movie Thoughts Thread

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Watched Falling Down (1993) finally. Not sure it aged that well, compared to all the crap going on here.

I'll have to say, it's one of the better directed/shot of Schumacher's films. I normally find his films have an edge of garishness; this one stays anchored in reality visually and is actually shot well. Michael Douglas also is fearless and doesn't care in the least whether you like him after this film. Main supporting cast is decent. I don't really fault the cinematography and filming, or the acting.

There's one issue I don't like about the script (well, an obvious one, and maybe some others); it's feels extremely front-loaded. Everyone D-Fens meets in the first half or more of the film tends to be an asshole. Later, when we see some of these people from other perspective, they seem nicer. It's not clear whether we are literally witnessing them or just seeing them through D-Fens' eyes because Schumacher doesn't suggest it's anything other than a literal portrayal. If these interactions were meant to be more subjective rather than objective, then Schumacher failed at that -- but it's hard to take them as anything but literal. And it's like everyone he runs into is really aggressive/obnoxious, so then he responds in kind and takes it up a notch. It feels like the writer is trying to justify at least his initial response. However, his response always goes much further than the equivalent.



The film is really shifty on the way it seems to waver on whether D-fens is a hero or villain. Some of these scenes paint him as a victim, but the initial conflict always seems a little over the top that triggers him (like, are people really this abrasive and obnoxious to strangers?) and then he always takes it further. As the end gets closer to what seems like an inevitable meetup with his estranged family (who has been trying to get police protection), he seems to be painted as more of the aggressor.

The film is trying to juxtapose this with another white guy, Robert Duvall's policeman who is attempting to retire on the same day but is swept into this ongoing incident. He slowly pieces it all together. The film tries to compare the two and their responses; both are becoming "obsolete," both seem rather passive and are abused/bullied or not taken seriously, both deal with wives / ex-wives who are calling the shots, both have "lost" a kid. In the end, the detective takes a more active approach in his own life and is portrayed overall as the "hero," kind of showing that responses to one's difficulties determine one's moral character, versus the more passive self-victimizing approach that lashes out while blaming others. Still, the analogy isn't perfect, and it's not clear how to deal with the sullen aggressive, "blame others for my unhappiness" person. Both need to utilize active engagement of life to get out of the hole they are in, but one does so by just reaffirming his own boundaries, the other destroys the boundaries and just redirects the threats he feels against other people.
It's one of those clever movies but unfortunately has become a reference point for a certain demographic when they want to talk about how things used to be better. I don't take the film to be wavering on the presentation of Douglas's character, it's just presenting a human character who really doesn't slot neatly into hero, villain or antihero roles, because those roles rarely exist clear cut in the real world. I think it was trying to go for an angle similar to Breaking Bad, making us both sympathize with and fear the main character. It does become increasingly difficult to cheer for D-Fens as the story progresses. The main character doesn't even really seem to have a clear reason for his own anger and sense of obsolesence, it's just a cloud of anger hovering over multiple reasons which have led to a feeling of being beaten down. That's honestly not unlike a lot of real world "angry" people, in that if you asked them why, it might be hard to pinpoint any one reason or cause. It's usually a laundry list or vague mass of various reasons or perceived transgressions and betrayals driving such anger.
 

Totenkindly

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It's one of those clever movies but unfortunately has become a reference point for a certain demographic when they want to talk about how things used to be better.
Yeah, it's been rather subsumed into some kind of klaxon for that particular subgroup.

I don't take the film to be wavering on the presentation of Douglas's character, it's just presenting a human character who really doesn't slot neatly into hero, villain or antihero roles, because those roles rarely exist clear cut in the real world. I think it was trying to go for an angle similar to Breaking Bad, making us both sympathize with and fear the main character. It does become increasingly difficult to cheer for D-Fens as the story progresses.
I'm generally okay with that kind of complexity in a film, I just didn't feel it was written well enough to truly pull it off like BB did -- although Michael Douglas' performance goes a long way.

A particularly good scene was when he ran into the immigrant family having a covert barbecue as he was escaping from the golf course. It was one of the better scenes because you could see from their responses and how he was dealing with them what was so off about him, but he also seemed disoriented himself and not quite able to see himself in the way he was being seen by others. I felt edgy towards him as well as sad in those moments. He had really become a man unmoored from empathy and reality in some ways, even if that was not something he had wanted to do, and didn't quite know how to latch back into reality. Any little mistake on how to speak with him also could have dire consequences. While I felt bad for him, he was also very clearly dangerous and able to flip at a moment's notice.

The main character doesn't even really seem to have a clear reason for his own anger and sense of obsolesence, it's just a cloud of anger hovering over multiple reasons which have led to a feeling of being beaten down. That's honestly not unlike a lot of real world "angry" people, in that if you asked them why, it might be hard to pinpoint any one reason or cause. It's usually a laundry list or vague mass of various reasons or perceived transgressions and betrayals driving such anger.
Yeah, basically there was just this aura of sullen rage and sadness about him, like the world had left him behind and he was frustrated and did not know what to do, hence he had started just reacting and/or acting out in ways that gave him a voice and some type of power even if it was negative voice and power. When asked to articulate his particular grievances, he could not; he just looked about and saw danger everywhere, saw people who were different from him encroaching in his space, leading him to inevitably feel like he was being pushed out... but he couldn't quite get his mental footing back to acquire a more accurate perspective. His inability to deal with loss and change led him in dark directions. I guess that is why they were matching him up with Duvall's character, who also had suffered similar loss, change, and bullying in his life but found different ways to deal with it.

There was also weirdness about Barbara Hershey's character from the film's perspective, in that it was clear to the audience why she had been afraid of her ex-husband (just by watching him now) but she could not properly articulate this to the police or why she had gotten the restraining order, and the police at times seemed dismissive of her like maybe she had gone too far and was at fault in making him angry -- and yet his behavior in the film and also with her at the end of the film made the threat feel very real even if it could not be hung on an easily articulatable incidents. I could see why she was scared of him, with his extremity and obsessiveness coupled with the abstracted grudges he was directing at others.
 
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The third eagle was there for Smeagol/Gollum. :(

Gandalf would've needed only 2 for himself and 2 light hobbits. In the film I think Gandalf's eagle is even the one to carry Frodo. It's not really made clear in the novel, that I can remember, although I haven't read ROTK in over 10 years, but I like that Jackson more or less confirmed the point of 3 eagles in the film version.
 

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Watched Falling Down (1993) finally. Not sure it aged that well, compared to all the crap going on here.

I'll have to say, it's one of the better directed/shot of Schumpeter's films. I normally find his films have an edge of garishness; this one stays anchored in reality visually and is actually shot well. Michael Douglas also is fearless and doesn't care in the least whether you like him after this film. Main supporting cast is decent. I don't really fault the cinematography and filming, or the acting.

There's one issue I don't like about the script (well, an obvious one, and maybe some others); it's feels extremely front-loaded. Everyone D-Fens meets in the first half or more of the film tends to be an asshole. Later, when we see some of these people from other perspective, they seem nicer. It's not clear whether we are literally witnessing them or just seeing them through D-Fens' eyes because Schumacher doesn't suggest it's anything other than a literal portrayal. If these interactions were meant to be more subjective rather than objective, then Schumacher failed at that -- but it's hard to take them as anything but literal. And it's like everyone he runs into is really aggressive/obnoxious, so then he responds in kind and takes it up a notch. It feels like the writer is trying to justify at least his initial response. However, his response always goes much further than the equivalent.



The film is really shifty on the way it seems to waver on whether D-fens is a hero or villain. Some of these scenes paint him as a victim, but the initial conflict always seems a little over the top that triggers him (like, are people really this abrasive and obnoxious to strangers?) and then he always takes it further. As the end gets closer to what seems like an inevitable meetup with his estranged family (who has been trying to get police protection), he seems to be painted as more of the aggressor.

The film is trying to juxtapose this with another white guy, Robert Duvall's policeman who is attempting to retire on the same day but is swept into this ongoing incident. He slowly pieces it all together. The film tries to compare the two and their responses; both are becoming "obsolete," both seem rather passive and are abused/bullied or not taken seriously, both deal with wives / ex-wives who are calling the shots, both have "lost" a kid. In the end, the detective takes a more active approach in his own life and is portrayed overall as the "hero," kind of showing that responses to one's difficulties determine one's moral character, versus the more passive self-victimizing approach that lashes out while blaming others. Still, the analogy isn't perfect, and it's not clear how to deal with the sullen aggressive, "blame others for my unhappiness" person. Both need to utilize active engagement of life to get out of the hole they are in, but one does so by just reaffirming his own boundaries, the other destroys the boundaries and just redirects the threats he feels against other people.
I feel like the ending of the movie was a sort of a cop-out. "Being trapped in the society that is in near-complete social decay and treats people as disposable tools is a completely normal and acceptable thing, you see!" seems to be the message of the movie. "Blame others for my unhappiness" What is this even supposed to mean? Happiness is merely a measure of goodness of the world. It's like seeing a specific color. Would be stupid to see white when it's black.
It's a pretty weak entry into the rampage genre. I prefered Uwe Boll's Rampage and of course Joker (2019).
Then there are true masterpieces like Zero Day (2003) and Elephant (2003).
 

Totenkindly

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I feel like the ending of the movie was a sort of a cop-out. "Being trapped in the society that is in near-complete social decay and treats people as disposable tools is a completely normal and acceptable thing, you see!" seems to be the message of the movie. "Blame others for my unhappiness" What is this even supposed to mean? Happiness is merely a measure of goodness of the world. It's like seeing a specific color. Would be stupid to see white when it's black.
It's a pretty weak entry into the rampage genre. I prefered Uwe Boll's Rampage and of course Joker (2019).
Then there are true masterpieces like Zero Day (2003) and Elephant (2003).
Well, I think the deal is that it was an early entry, not a later derivative one. So it helped kick-start the genre... I faintly remember it being discussed at the time. Columbine hadn't even happened yet.

I prefer van Sant's Elephant and the recent Joker film as well, in terms of craft; We Need to Talk About Kevin is another well-made film, although it's oppressive as hell to watch and focuses more on the boy's relationship with his mother rather than society and also has no solution.

As noted, I felt the script was off, and Schumacher wasn't necessarily a boon to the production because I feel like he often got in the way of his own films, he had his own fixations when directing as much as the joke about JJ Abrams' lens flares. Sure there is a subtext you describe above, but I felt like the film had multiple subtexts, some seemingly in conflict -- like "society is doing this to people, so they're getting mad" but then tries to slap an "Acting out like this isn't heroic, it's villainous" at the end while not really offering anything else to deal with the situation other than just asserting yourself in ways that don't kill people. Obviously that did not affect many audience members if they even saw the film, because things have spiraled out of control.
 

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Jean Louis Trintignant just died. I'm using the opportunity to rewatch Costa-Gavras' "Z", one of my favorite movies since I was a teenager (which I will not allow the recent abuses of that letter to ruin for me).


Plus I have always loved the soundtrack by Mikis Theodorakis.
 

Totenkindly

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Watched Spiderhead on Netflix.

Basic issue is the script, which is somewhat underwhelming. Not sure how to make it a better adaptation though, since I just read the short story source and it's something that works in that format in writing, not well for a straight adaptation. So there had to be some changes. Not sure how I would have done it, and I get why some of the changes occurred. Also the ending works in speculative fiction but would have bombed on the screen. A lot of the flippancy of the script got pushed onto the scientist character, but then the flippancy seems to be part of his character rather than part of the tone of the film itself. Not really sure what else to say about that.

The actors themselves were pretty decent. Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, Jurnee Smollett, etc.

Not sure about all the yacht rock music, which felt kind of gimmicky. It's really interesting seeing this done by Joe Kosinski, who usually makes very different films. (Then again, who ever thought he would do the sequel to Top Gun -- and apparently make one of the best big films of the year?!) You can see traces of it in the set design, he usually does more scifi related films with a lot of clean lines (Tron Legacy, Oblivion) and that is how the building structure and design appears in this film -- I think he was an architect at one point in his career.

Here's the story it is based on:
 
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